Theodore Sturgeon and Ellery Queen

If it’s true that Theodore Sturgeon “suffered from writer’s block for many years at a time,” as Eric Weeks and Bill Seabrook tell us on the Theodore Sturgeon Page, then all I can say is, when Sturgeon was on, he was prodigiously ON.

I’ve written elsewhere about a book called I, Libertine, which Sturgeon authored as a prank, in collaboration with Jean Shepherd and Ian Ballantine, under the pseudonym Frederick R. Ewing. That he could knock off a novel on a whim is fairly impressive, but that’s nothing compared to what I learned recently. Theodore Sturgeon ghost-wrote one of the best Ellery Queen novels, The Player On the Other Side (Random House, 1963).

Wikipedia quotes H.R.F. Keating’s The Bedside Companion to Crime, New York (Mysterious Press, 1989):

William DeAndrea, author and … winner of Mystery Writers of America awards, selecting his ten favorite mystery novels for the magazine Armchair Detective, picked The Player on the Other Side as one of them. He said: “This book changed my life … and made a raving mystery fan (and therefore ultimately a mystery writer) out of me. … The book must be ‘one of the most skilful    pastiches in the history of literature. An amazing piece of work, whomever did it’.”

This got my attention. I’m halfway through Player and it really is a good read in the style of the golden-age detective fiction.

Most of the Ellery Queen books were written by two cousins, Daniel Nathan and Manford (Emanuel) Lepofsky. Together, they wrote under the pseudonym “Ellery Queen” and they also named their fictional detective Ellery Queen.

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